Four days after 80-125 gallons of crude were released during the plugging of oil wells at Pier 421 in Goleta, the Unified Command has declared its cleanup operation of oiled kelp and debris concluded. Altogether, 15 birds have been collected by the Oiled Wildlife Care Network since Tuesday’s spill. Nine were found dead; six were alive; the live birds’ condition is unknown, said Fish & Wildlife spokesperson Eric Laughlin. Watchers remained on call through Monday, and reports can be made to (877) 823-6926. The Coal Oil Point nesting site for the snowy plover — a bird considered threatened on the Endangered Species List — remained unaffected, Laughlin said.
The two-to-three-barrel spill was first noted by a Krummrich Engineering crew, which was decommissioning Pier 421 near Haskell’s Beach, part of the State Lands Commission’s closing of Venoco’s oil facilities after Venoco went bankrupt in 2017. Sheri Pemberton, a spokesperson with State Lands, said the crew had encountered “unexpected pressure” at the time, and it remains unknown where the oil had come from. Pemberton speculated it was either from the well or possibly from the natural seeps in the area. UCSB marine oil expert Prof. David Valentine confirmed that as much as 100 barrels of oil were known to seep daily offshore of Coal Oil Point, which is about two-and-a-half miles to the east of Haskell’s Beach.